Google Removes PageRank Data From Webmaster Tools

Oct 15, 2009 • 9:27 am | comments (26) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization
 

Google has removed the PageRank section in the crawl statistics in Google Webmaster Tools. This has gone mostly unnoticed, with the release of the labs feature, until now. A Google Webmaster Help thread reports the PageRank values shown in Webmaster Tools has now been completely removed. I have verified this and it is true.

Googler, Susan Moskwa explained why in the thread:

We've been telling people for a long time that they shouldn't focus on PageRank so much; many site owners seem to think it's the most important metric for them to track, which is simply not true. We removed it because we felt it was silly to tell people not to think about it, but then to show them the data, implying that they should look at it. :-)

Interesting... So you tell people not to focus on it and you find it silly that you show it in Webmaster Tools, but you still show it in Google's Toolbar? I mean, how many people have the Google Toolbar installed compared to those who use Google Webmaster Tools? I assume a fraction of those use Google Webmaster Tools.

Back in 2007, Google wanted feedback on removing PageRank from the Toolbar. I felt it was a good idea but the idea died out. Google cannot remove PageRank from the Toolbar, it is too much of their branding. No matter how much Matt Cutts and the Google search quality and webmaster trends team want it removed, I cannot see Google's executives allowing it.

Removing it from Webmaster Tools does make a statement to webmasters, but as long as they keep it in the Google Toolbar, it makes a stronger statement to searchers.

Here is how the PR stats looked like in Webmaster Tools:

Google Webmaster Tools PageRank Bug?

Shouldn't Google drop it from both places, the Toolbar and Webmaster Tools? Having it public anywhere, defeats the purpose in my opinion.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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Comments:

Melt du Plooy

10/15/2009 01:45 pm

I totally agree. it makes no sense removing it from WMT and not from the toolbar. If it does not matter, or at least, they don't want people to worry about it so much, then simply update all your tools, specifically the ones most people might be using...

Kevin Spence

10/15/2009 01:47 pm

Interesting -- though I never really paid much attention to PR in the webmaster tools because it was just too ambiguous (it only told you if your PR was low medium or high, but never defined those values).

Vanessa Fox

10/15/2009 01:54 pm

Well, except the additional thing to consider here is that the PageRank distribution graphs in GWT were never very actionable. As you probably recall, we launched them very early on in the development of the tools before we'd had a chance to build much more useful reports. I don't know that anyone was able to make substantial improvements to their sites or gain great insight from those distribution graphs. They were pretty vague (nearly all sites have a pretty similar distribution graph) and weren't updated often enough to provide responsive feedback on site changes. I don't have any inside information on this, but I don't expect that the removal would have anything to do with the toolbar PageRank display. And I'm much more interested in knowing why more useful features have been removed, like query stats by folder!

chris boggs

10/15/2009 02:01 pm

great thoughts Barry. we are sitting here at the SEMPO board retreat and your post prompted an interesting discussion. It would be very difficult for Google to remove the PR bar from the toolbar, as it would likely require a re-download of the toolbar to take effect. thus, if they retired it from the toolbar, many oblivious people would still assume the archived PR is current. I disagree with the comment about PR being the only use for the toolbar... the search box itself is my most-used tool, and the sidewiki function may continue to gain reach.

Barry Schwartz

10/15/2009 02:05 pm

Chris, I guess I was unclear. I didn't mean the toolbar is used for PR. I meant the toolbar is used by more people than people who use webmaster tools.

simons1321

10/15/2009 02:38 pm

Has anyone ever seen any numbers from Google on the number of toolbar installs/users? Is it really that big anymore? Or was it ever that big? I know that I rarely use it anymore... even to check PR.

No Name

10/15/2009 03:05 pm

www.google.co.uk has shown no PR in the toolbar for around a week now, no one seems to have picked up on it though.

Ken

10/15/2009 03:45 pm

I use a plugin called SEO for firefox and i have also noticed the the PR has not been shown lately thought this might be due Google doing some work.

Kerry Dye

10/15/2009 04:13 pm

Back in July last year, Matt Cutts said (on a comment on his own blog) "The last time I checked, many many more users turned on the PageRank display than there are site owners. The PageRank display is actually a popular feature, as it turns out".

Gareth

10/15/2009 05:14 pm

I see the PageRank feature on the toolbar as something that users might look at to see if they are on a website that Google finds credible. It adds a bit of security for the user, letting them know how much Google "approves" the site. From that viewpoint, I can see why Google would not want to remove it from the toolbar.

Trip

10/15/2009 07:08 pm

Ummm... Right click on your browser, select Google toolbar options, choose tools and deselect Page Rank. Wow no more Page Rank in the toolbar. I use the Google toolbar for quick access to my Gmail and easy access to my iGoogle from any page I may be on at the time. Sooo... there are obvious other reasons to use the toolbar other than to view a sites Page Rank.

Rafael Capuchp

10/16/2009 05:05 pm

I Think that it's good, Google Pagerank in my point of view can stay in the deprecated list. Today Google PR not promoves the real relevance of the sites content.

Ipotpal Tihomir

10/17/2009 01:08 am

I think that is an Google`s trick - they want more people start user google chrome

joy

10/17/2009 02:57 am

I think it is a good new for us, you know due to pr is one important factor with position of our site,more people buy links,use blackhat seo.now , google do it like this,it indicate they need to find other way,and i think it is better to our sites who use white hat seo to optimizating.

Jay

10/17/2009 02:32 pm

What gets me, is that EVERYONE is searching for Googles secret recipe on how well your site is ranked, indexed etc. No-one seems to be an expert and hence why we have lots of websites discussing how we can achieve these results...? Is there a secret recipe which the GoogleBot enjoys, or are we all having the wool pulled?

Ed

10/17/2009 08:21 pm

Great! Now we can all get on with our lives. just brilliant.

Gwen

10/18/2009 07:36 pm

Speaking as a searcher and instructor, I don't think many searchers ever look at pagerank in the Google Toolbar. However, there is a believe among searchers that PR is important based on the idea of many links in. This is probably the view that everyone has to shake. Google's tech page (http://www.google.com/corporate/tech.html) says PR use "500 million variables and 2 billion terms".

Justin Germino

10/19/2009 04:36 pm

Clearly PageRank isn't going away anytime soon with it being the most used benchmark for advertisers, but why make it harder to find your pagerank and tell people not to focus on it, when advertisers consider it important?

No Name

10/19/2009 11:04 pm

I think google just delete the webmaster tools of public relations alone. webmaster tools listed on our homework, well from now abolished. but google still give homework to the rank of our blog, and we can check via the toolbar.

Chris

10/20/2009 04:26 am

As the original poster of the thread on the Google WMT Forum, I am very glad to see that the change is finally becoming a talking point. Cheers!

Erik Vold

10/25/2009 02:31 am

PageRank will always be an important metric, I don't like this move at all..

John

11/03/2009 10:39 am

I love Google - but they act in an unbelieveably arrogant way on occassion. Are they becoming drunk on their success like Microsoft? Firstly - where was the note on the page that said that it had gone and why? It probably disturbed quite a few people when it disappeared and led them to waste time trying to find out why. A note would have solved that. Secondly - where was the consultation? Thirdly - The graphs were supposed to give webmasters a more accurate view of their sites overall pagerank than the Toolbar. I for one found it quite helpful as a general tool. Fourthly, their explanation for removal doesn't stack up - if you wanted less obsessing about PR, you would remove the toolbar not the generalised stats. To sum up - a very poor move. The logic stinks and they've just upset a ton of webmasters for no real gain. If they remove the toolbar, the backlash will be much bigger.

John

11/03/2009 03:47 pm

And furthermore, if Page Rank doesn't matter that much why bother removing one of the tools that showed it? "To stop people obsessing about it" - that is just so daft it doesn't make sense. Taking away tools doesn't stop an obsession - changing the system stops the obsession. And if Google have changed the system (they haven't - there are people here who would notice, eventually), then why do they care about it? After all, after Google decided to change the nofollow rules (re page sculpting), it took them a year to tell people about it. A year. Why? Because it make zero different to Google whether people sculpted or not - however, it did make alot of difference to some of those people when they found out they had been unknowingly evaporating page rank for a year. So no, Google, I for one don't believe you.

No Name

11/19/2009 12:03 pm

they do remove it, but they keep mentioning it here and there so I don't believe PR is dead

Maciej (ma-chi)

03/05/2010 10:56 am

Personally I would be happy to see this silly little number go away. Half the spam that sits in our search results is a direct result of people trying to manipulate this number which at the end of the day is just a number.

Doug Smith

04/05/2012 06:48 pm

this is a compelling topic... From my experience, I've used it to grade which sites are link worthy, but also avoided using it in webmasters tools as I try to stay away from checking my own and focus more on pushing forward with webpage production... but thats just me

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